What is a Power of Attorney? In general terms a Power of Attorney (PoA) is legal means of nominating someone else to take actions or make decisions on your behalf, if or when you become incapable of doing so yourself. Think of it like an insurance policy: hope that you never need to use it, but enjoy the peace of mind that having it brings. A PoA is not just about looking after money/property either. It can also let you plan who should decide for you about issues relating to your personal welfare.
Specifically a PoA is a written legal document through which one person gives a trusted person or people (known as the attorney) the power to make decisions on their behalf when they’re unable to do so themselves. The PoA details the names of these attorneys, and lists the individual powers they will have. The PoA will also state the conditions for when those attorneys can begin acting.
Anyone over the age of 16 who is capable can make a PoA or be nominated as an attorney, though there are some restrictions if a person has been made bankrupt. Capability needs to be certified by a doctor or lawyer and to the office of the public guardian charges a small fee to register a completed PoA.
If you’re reading this as a carer the importance and value of the person you care for having a PoA may be immediately obvious. Then again the pressures of caring can often make this kind of future planning seem like a luxury, one more job to be put off while you deal with more immediate concerns.
Here at VOCAL we think getting a PoA in place is invaluable for a great many carers and those they care for. To help facilitate this we run regular surgeries in partnership with an independent advisor where carers and those they care for can come and explore their options, decide the shape of PoA that is right for them and take the necessary steps toward setting one up that suits their needs and circumstances.
As well as offering you and the person you care for peace of mind in the present, a PoA can make life immeasurably easier if the day comes that it’s needed. Without a PoA in place families with an incapacitated relative can wind up enduring lengthy legal proceedings in order to make simple decisions regarding a loved one’s care. Having a PoA in place ensures that – if the time comes that it’s needed – decisions about the person you care for’s future is in the hands of someone they’ve chosen, and that there are no barriers to getting on with making those decisions.